Alternative Cinema // 2013 // 78 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // October 10th, 2013
Stalked. Tortured. Killed. Can you escape?
Sometimes it's nice to be right. When Bleeding Cool was released, I claimed that the film showed promise, and now with Babysitter Massacre he's lived up to some of that promise, offering a flick that pays homage to those delicious 1980s slasher flicks that always seemed to feature a group of women getting undressed together. Though only a narrow section of the viewing audience will appreciate this ode to genres past, fans of indie horror and the sorority slasher will want to check it out.
The plot of Babysitter Massacre is pretty much right there in the title. A few years ago a group of friends decided to start a babysitting club, but it broke up when one of their number was killed. Now, it seems the former club members are being picked off one by one. Who could be responsible?
Bleeding Through was an obvious labor of love, and so is Babysitter Massacre. However, it goes one further, and is also a love letter. Specifically, it's all about the love for a particular genre, that weird little historical moment that produced Slumber Party Massacre and Sorority House Massacre (among others). All the basic elements are there -- Babysitter Massacre has a past trauma (the death of an original member), a group of friends, plenty of excuses for nudity, and a killer on the loose. There's even a scene where three of the girls get together for a Halloween party, and one of them just happened to bring a pile of lingerie so the ladies can dress up to impress her horror-movie-loving boyfriend. It's a self-aware moment that pays tribute to the genre with a bit of gentle mocking.
Speaking of ladies in lingerie, one of the most noticeable things about Babysitter Massacre is just how much nudity there is. Of course part of the appeal of the genre has always been the willingness of actresses to shuck their duds, and the implied lesbian community of a bunch of naked or near-naked women together adds a bit of spark to the proceedings. Babysitter Massacre is remarkable for the sheer amount of nudity it crams into 78 minutes. Most low-budget flicks find a single woman willing to get naked and give her a scene or two. Babysitter Massacre includes several and finds a number of reasons (some of them more absurd than others) for disrobing. No, the nudity alone probably isn't enough reason for most viewers to watch Babysitter Massacre by itself, but it's a nice touch that fans of the genre will appreciate.
The approach to nudity also signals the film's general approach to genre: take the basic building blocks and amp them up. The whole film feels like a really good cover of a song you remember from your youth; all the elements are there, but they've been amped up. With a little distance, it's easier to appreciate what made the original great in the first place. That's the effect of Babysitter Massacre.
Of course the film is helped by a strong DVD release. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer makes the low-budget feature look good. Blacks are especially impressive, but detail is generally strong and colors pop appropriately. The stereo audio track keeps dialogue audible and well-balanced with the film's score.
Extras are nice and extensive. They kick off with a commentary featuring Couto and some of his actresses, and it's a lively track. Couto gets the lion's share of the commentary, but he's pretty good at quizzing his collaborators on their experiences as well. Couto likes to support his local scene, so we get a featurette on the film's premiere (in Dayton, Ohio), and a bonus short "The Best Part of Dayton" as well. For those who couldn't get enough of the film, there are some deleted scenes, as well as outtakes and bloopers, along with a standard behind-the scenes. There's also a talk by Couto and a "trailer vault" to round out the disc.
Babysitter Massacre does a pretty effective job of advertising itself with its a title. If a "babysitter massacre" sounds like your kind of thing, you probably won't be disappointed; if not, then avoid the flick entirely. As for the film itself, it's hard to judge some aspects of it because I'm not sure of Couto and company intend some of the less-polished aspects of the film to be intentional or not. For instance, dialogue can often be pretty crappy, not well-delivered. It's hard to say if that's because the screenplay and performances sometimes falter, or if Couto is making a commentary on the sorority slasher genre. In either case, if lame dialogue bugs you, then Babysitter Massacre might be one to avoid.
Many fans of low-budget films look for the diamond in the rough, that one film that will make up for the dozen or so terrible films that have to be endured until a gem appears. Babysitter Massacre is one of those gems. It's made by people who love the genre and have the skills to craft a low-budget homage that gets it right. It's not going to change anyone's life, but those who remember sorority slasher films fondly will appreciate Babysitter Massacre.
Gruesome, but not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Alternative Cinema
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Facebook Page